Readers of the New Yorker will know Charles Barsotti as the cartoonist with the one-liners on the psychaitrist’s couch, and the naive-but-wise sayings of his floppy-eared white puppy character. Barsotti is able to communicate volumes with a few words and a few lines, the mark of an exemplary cartoonist. Like a great story, the drawing above could be interpreted in many ways: The poor and the rich, entrepreneurs and mega-corporations, the consequence of the Bush tax cuts, or the willingness of the successful to still listen and learnfrom those of more modest accomplishment. Simply brilliant.
March 5, 2004
Even the pessimists didn’t expect the horrendous February employment report issued by the labour department today. Employment grew by an insignificant 21,000 people, compared to the increase in the labour force of 150,000, and the forecast just last month from Bush’s office that between 2.6 million and 5.0 million net new jobs would be created this year. As I promised, I’ll be tracking this each month.
But it’s even worse if you read the whole report. The entire increase in February was a result of hiring by federal and state governments. Private sector employment actually declined. And the labour department also admitted they had overstated January’s and December’s employment growth numbers by 15,000 and 8,000 respectively. So total US employment at the end of February was actually 2,000 people less than last month’s reported number.
In light of record profits by many large corporations in recent months, no one should have any illusions that Bush’s tax cuts for the rich will ever somehow ‘trickle down’ to the rest of the people. This data shows that profit growth is now occurring entirely on the backs of American workers, and from ‘productivity’ improvements due to downsizing, outsourcing and offshoring. Big corporations are already gouging as much revenue from struggling American consumers for their overpriced, increasingly imported products as they can, so future ‘growth’ must come by cutting and exporting jobs.
Not surprisingly, the stock market shrugged off this horrible news, since although it doesn’t bode well for consumer buying power, it allows the Fed the excuse to keep interest rates low for another month, keeping the cost of massive corporate borrowing (and the interest cost on the astronomical and still-soaring Bush debt) manageably low. But like everything else in our economy, these stock market levels and interest rate levels are unsustainable. Big bubble ahead.